How to Stay Healthy During the Holidays

Holiday health can be a challenge. For most of the year, we have an easier time managing the foods we eat, our exercise schedule, as well as maintaining a routine that offers ample time for rest and recuperation. During the holidays, however, we're often visiting relatives, hosting out of town guests, or simply attending a lot of get-togethers. These factors can make it a lot more challenging to maintain fitness. Even a few bad weeks can derail an otherwise healthy lifestyle, and in some cases, it can take well into the new year to get back on track. Negative Effects of an Unhealthy Holiday According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine, the average person gains about 1 pound over the fall and winter, with the majority of that over the holidays. This might not seem like an alarming figure. But what is concerning is that, according to this study, the weight gain is often not lost over the spring and summer. This leads to "…the (accumulated) increase in body weight that frequently occurs during adulthood." A separate study conducted by Cornell University echoed many of these findings. Their study noted an average weight gain of 1.3 pounds which started in October and peaked after Christmas. This study found that for those who did regain their summer fitness, it often took up to five months for the weight to come back off. The American Heart Association stated, meanwhile, that heart attacks are highest during the holidays. They say that the data is still unclear as to why, but reasons point to "…changes in diet and alcohol consumption during the holidays; stress from family interactions, strained finances, travel and entertaining…" Healthy Holiday Habits Regardless of your current level of health, it' important to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays. This doesn't mean skipping sweets altogether, or always having to pass on that second helping of mashed potatoes. It does mean an overall strategy of moderation and taking steps to continue the wholesome practices you've upheld throughout the year. The organizations mentioned above, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Diabetes Association offer some common-sense tips to come into the new year in the same shape you left the summer. Sensible Eating Naturally, any healthy holiday strategy will start with diet. While most agree it' ok to enjoy the foods you only get to eat during the holidays (in moderation), it' vital to strike a balance between enjoyment and nutrition. Tips include:
  • Control portion sizes (using smaller plates is a helpful trick for some)
  • Try healthier versions of favorite holiday foods
  • Keep eating fresh vegetables and fruit
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat a regular breakfast
  • If multiple dishes are offered at a meal, try to choose the healthiest ones and pass on the rest
  • If a high-calorie food is offered and it' your favorite, take some, but skip another high-calorie food you enjoy less
  • Weigh yourself each day
Regular Physical Activity Especially when traveling and visiting relatives, maintaining an exercise schedule can be tough. With a little creativity, however, you can find ways to work out, even when your weights and stationary bike are back at home. Ideas can include:
  • Finding a local gym
  • Yoga
  • Using a workout/personal training app
  • Going for walks or runs
  • Playing with nieces and nephews (e.g. soccer, basketball, catch)
  • Renting cross-country skis or snowshoes (if it' a white Christmas)
Additionally, sophisticated wearables such as REM-Fit' 200 Series Sleep & Activity Tracker keep you motivated and help you make sure you're tempering the extra food intake with plenty of movement. It delivers insights into your day with intuitive tracking of "Active Life Points," plus steps, and estimated distance and calories burned. Restful Sleep According to the CDC, sleep loss can "…make it harder to control your blood sugar, and when you're sleep deprived you'll tend to eat more and prefer high-fat, high-sugar food." They recommend working in 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. Between office holiday parties and family get-togethers, time for sleep often takes a hit. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help ensure adequate rest:
  • Limit or avoid alcohol before bedtime
  • Steer clear of stress-inducing interactions with family members
  • Don't over commit to holiday obligations, pick and choose
  • Find a relaxing, stress-free bedtime activity (like reading) to help you get to sleep
  • Make appearances at get-togethers and connect with people, but try to leave at a reasonable hour
Sleep tracking is an effective way to keep you informed of the amount and the quality of sleep you're getting. By analyzing your sleep in the morning, and finding correlations between sleep and your daytime habits, you can make adjustments to your schedule, exercise, and diet to optimize the time you're in bed. There are many different sleep tracking products on the market today. The following are some of the most effective: ZEEQ Smart Pillow , This industry-first product not only analyzes your sleep through REM-Fit' proprietary smartphone app, it helps to stop snoring through a gentle vibration that stimulates the need to shift positions, streams music, sets an alarm, is smart home compatible, and is breathable so that you can enjoy a cool pillow all night long. It' an all-in-one device that encompasses everything REM-Fit knows about achieving restful sleep. REM-Fit Sleep Monitor , Placed between your mattress and your sheets, this sleep tracking device goes far beyond typical sleep trackers. In addition to the motion detection common among most devices, the Sleep Monitor keeps tabs on heart rate and respiratory rate. When you wake up in the morning, simply check your phone for the next level in sleep data, as well as insights that will help you make meaningful adjustments. As challenging as it may be, it is possible to stay healthy through the holidays. By adopting sensible eating habits, staying physically active, and utilizing REM-Fit sleep technology to optimize your rest, you can come into January fit to tackle the new year.